Marcovaldo
72 pages
English

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Marcovaldo

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72 pages
English

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Description

A charming portrait of one man’s dreams and schemes, by “the greatest Italian writer of the twentieth century” (The Guardian).
 
In this enchanting book of linked stories, Italo Calvino charts the disastrous schemes of an Italian peasant, an unskilled worker in a drab northern industrial city in the 1950s and ’60s, struggling to reconcile his old country habits with his current urban life.
 
Marcovaldo has a practiced eye for spotting natural beauty and an unquenchable longing for the unspoiled rural world of his imagination. Much to the continuing puzzlement of his wife, his children, his boss, and his neighbors, he chases his dreams and gives rein to his fantasies, whether it’s sleeping in the great outdoors on a park bench, following a stray cat, or trying to catch wasps. Unfortunately, the results are never quite what he anticipates.
 
Spanning from the 1950s to the 1960s, the twenty stories in Marcovaldo are alternately comic and melancholy, farce and fantasy. Throughout, Calvino’s unassuming masterpiece “conveys the sensuous, tangible qualities of life” (The New York Times).

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Informations

Publié par
Date de parution 26 octobre 2012
Nombre de lectures 10
EAN13 9780544133228
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0075€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Contents
Title Page
Contents
Copyright
Author’s Note:
SPRING
SUMMER
AUTUMN
WINTER
SPRING
SUMMER
AUTUMN
WINTER
SPRING
SUMMER
AUTUMN
WINTER
SPRING
SUMMER
AUTUMN
WINTER
SPRING
SUMMER
AUTUMN
WINTER
About the Author
Copyright © 1963 by Giulio Einaudi Editore, S.p.A. English translation copyright © 1983 by Harcourt, Inc. and Martin Seeker & Warburg Limited

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.com or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.

www.hmhco.com

The Library of Congress has cataloged the print edition as follows: Calvino, Italo. Marcovaldo, or The seasons in the city. Translation of: Marcovaldo, ovvero, Le stagioni in città. “A Helen and Kurt Wolff book.” I. Title. PQ4809A45M313 1983 853'.9'14 83-4372 ISBN -13 978-0-15-157081-2 ISBN -10 0-15-157081-7 ISBN -13 978-0-15-657204-0 (pb) ISBN -10 0-15-657204-4 (pb)

e ISBN 978-0-544-13322-8 v3.1215
Author’s Note:
These stories take place in an industrial city of northern Italy. The first in the series were written in the early 1950s and thus are set in a very poor Italy, the Italy of neo-realistic movies. The last stories date from the mid-60s, when the illusions of an economic boom flourished.
I.C.
SPRING
1. Mushrooms in the city
The wind, coming to the city from far away, brings it unusual gifts, noticed by only a few sensitive souls, such as hay-fever victims, who sneeze at the pollen from flowers of other lands.
One day, to the narrow strip of ground flanking a city avenue came a gust of spores from God knows where; and some mushrooms germinated. Nobody noticed them except Marcovaldo, the worker who caught his tram just there every morning.
This Marcovaldo possessed an eye ill-suited to city life: billboards, traffic-lights, shop-windows, neon signs, posters, no matter how carefully devised to catch the attention, never arrested his gaze, which might have been running over the desert sands. Instead, he would never miss a leaf yellowing on a branch, a feather trapped by a roof-tile; there was no horsefly on a horse’s back, no worm-hole in a plank, or fig-peel squashed on the sidewalk that Marcovaldo didn’t remark and ponder over, discovering the changes of season, the yearnings of his heart, and the woes of his existence.
Thus, one morning, as he was waiting for the tram that would take him to Sbav and Co., where he was employed as an unskilled laborer, he noticed something unusual near the stop, in the sterile, encrusted strip of earth beneath the avenue’s line of trees; at certain points, near the tree trunks, some bumps seemed to rise and, here and there, they had opened, allowing roundish subterranean bodies to peep out.
Bending to tie his shoes, he took a better look: they were mushrooms, real mushrooms, sprouting right in the heart of the city! To Marcovaldo the gray and wretched world surrounding him seemed suddenly generous with hidden riches; something could still be expected of life, beyond the hourly wage of his stipulated salary, with inflation index, family grant, and cost-of-living allowance.
On the job he was more absent-minded than usual; he kept thinking that while he was there unloading cases and boxes, in the darkness of the earth the slow, silent mushrooms, known only to him, were ripening their porous flesh, were assimilating underground humors, breaking the crust of clods. “One night’s rain would be enough,” he said to himself, “then they would be ready to pick.” And he couldn’t wait to share his discovery with his wife and his six children.
“I’m telling you!” he announced during their scant supper. “In a week’s time we’ll be eating mushrooms! A great fry! That’s a promise!”
And to the smaller children, who did not know what mushrooms were, he explained ecstatically the beauty of the numerous species, the delicacy of their flavor, the way they should be cooked; and so he also drew into the discussion his wife, Domitilla, who until then had appeared rather incredulous and abstracted.
“Where are these mushrooms?” the children asked. “Tell us where they grow!”
At this question Marcovaldo’s enthusiasm was curbed by a suspicious thought: Now if I tell them the place, they’ll go and hunt for them with the usual gang of kids, word will spread through the neighborhood, and the mushrooms will end up in somebody else’s pan! And so that discovery, which had promptly filled his heart with universal love, now made him wildly possessive, surrounded him with jealous and distrusting fear.
“I know where the mushrooms are, and I’m the only one who knows,” he said to his children, “and God help you if you breathe a word to anybody.”
The next morning, as he approached the tram stop, Marcovaldo was filled with apprehension. He bent to look at the ground and, to his relief, saw that the mushrooms had grown a little, but not much, and were still almost completely hidden by the earth.
He was bent in this position when he realized there was someone behind him. He straightened up at once and tried to act indifferent. It was the street-cleaner, leaning on his broom and looking at him.
This street-cleaner, whose jurisdiction included the place where the mushrooms grew, was a lanky youth with eyeglasses. His name was Amadigi, and Marcovaldo had long harbored a dislike of him, perhaps because of those eyeglasses that examined the pavement of the streets, seeking any trace of nature, to be eradicated by his broom.
It was Saturday; and Marcovaldo spent his free half-day circling the bed of dirt with an absent air, keeping an eye on the street-cleaner in the distance and on the mushrooms, and calculating how much time they needed to ripen.
That night it rained: like peasants who, after months of drought, wake up and leap with joy at the sound of the first drops, so Marcovaldo, alone in all the city, sat up in bed and called to his family: “It’s raining! It’s raining!” and breathed in the smell of moistened dust and fresh mold that came from outside.
At dawn — it was Sunday — with the children and a borrowed basket, he ran immediately to the patch. There were the mushrooms, erect on their stems, their caps high over the still-soaked earth. “Hurrah!” — and they fell to gathering them.
“Papà! Look how many that man over there has found,” Michelino said, and his father, raising his eyes, saw Amadigi standing beside them, also with a basket full of mushrooms under his arm.
“Ah, you’re gathering them, too?” the street-cleaner said. “Then they’re edible? I picked a few, but I wasn’t sure . . . Farther down the avenue some others have sprouted, even bigger ones . . . Well, now that I know, I’ll tell my relatives; they’re down there arguing whether it’s a good idea to pick them or not . . .” And he walked off in a hurry.
Marcovaldo was speechless: even bigger mushrooms, which he hadn’t noticed, an unhoped-for harvest, being taken from him like this, before his very eyes. For a moment he was almost frozen with anger, fury, then — as sometimes happens — the collapse of individual passion led to a generous impulse. At that hour, many people were waiting for the tram, umbrellas over their arms, because the weather was still damp and uncertain. “Hey, you! Do you want to eat fried mushrooms tonight?” Marcovaldo shouted to the crowd of people at the stop. “Mushrooms are growing here by the street! Come along! There’s plenty for all!” And he walked off after Amadigi, with a string of people behind him.
They all found plenty of mushrooms, and lacking baskets, they used their open umbrellas. Somebody said: “It would be nice to have a big feast, all of us together!” But, instead, each took his own share and went home.
They saw one another again soon, however; that very evening, in fact, in the same ward of the hospital, after the stomach-pump had saved them all from poisoning. It was not serious, because the number of mushrooms eaten by each person was quite small.
Marcovaldo and Amadigi had adjacent beds; they glared at each other.
SUMMER
2. Park-bench vacation
On his way to work each morning, Marcovaldo walked beneath the green foliage of a square with trees, a bit of public garden, isolated in the junction of four streets. He raised his eyes among the boughs of the horse-chestnuts, where they were at their thickest and allowed yellow rays only to glint in the shade transparent with sap; and he listened to the racket of the sparrows, tone-deaf, invisible on the branches. To him they seemed nightingales, and he said to himself: “Oh, if I could wake just once at the twitter of birds and not at the sound of the alarm and the crying of little Paolino and the yelling of my wife, Domitilla!” or else: “Oh, if I could sleep here, alone, in the midst of this cool green shade and not in my cramped, hot room; here amid the silence, not amid the snoring and sleep-talking of my whole family and the racing of trams down below in the street; here in the natural darkness of the night, not in the artificial darkness of closed blinds, streaked by the glare of headlights; oh, if I could see leaves and sky on opening my eyes!” With these thoughts every day Marcovaldo began his eight daily hours — plus overtime — as an unskilled laborer.
In one corner of the square, under a dome of horse-chestnuts, there was a remote, half-hidden bench. And Marcovaldo had picked it as his own. On those summer nights, in the room where five of them slept, when he couldn’t get to sleep, he would dream of the bench as a vagabond dreams of a bed in a palace. One night, quietly, while his wife snored and the children kicked in their sleep, he got out of bed, dressed, tucked his pillow under his arm, left the house and went to the square.
There it was cool, peaceful. He was already savoring the contact of those planks, whose wood — he knew — was soft and cozy, preferable in every respect to the flattened mattress of his bed; he would look for a moment at the stars, then close his eyes in a sleep that would compensate him for all the insults of the day.
Cool and peace he found, but not the empty bench. A couple of lovers were sitting there, looking into each other’s eyes. Discreetly, Marcovaldo withdrew. “It’s late,” he thought, “they surely won’t spend the whole night outdoors! They’ll come to an end of their billing and cooing.”
But the two were not billing or cooing: they were quarreling. And when lovers start to quarrel there’s no telling how long it will go on.
He was saying: “Why don’t you admit that when you said what you said you knew you were going to hurt me and not make me happy the way you were pretending you thought?”
Marcovaldo realized it was going to last quite a while.
“No, I will not admit it,” she answered, as Marcovaldo had already expected.
“Why won’t you admit it?”
“I’ll never admit it.”
Damn, Marcovaldo thought. His pillow clutched under his arm, he went for a stroll. He went and looked at the moon, which was full, big above trees and roofs. He came back towards the bench, giving it a fairly wide berth out of fear of disturbing them, but actually hoping to irritate them a little and persuade them to go away. But they were too caught up in the argument to notice him.
“You admit it then?”
“No, no, I don’t admit it in the least!”
“But what if you did admit it?”
“Even if I did admit something, I wouldn’t admit what you want me to admit!”
Marcovaldo went back to look at the moon, then he went to look at a traffic-light, a bit farther on. The light flashed yellow, yellow, yellow, constantly blinking on and off. Marcovaldo compared the moon with the traffic-light. The moon with her mysterious pallor, also yellow, but also green, in its depths, and even blue; the traffic-light with its common little yellow. And the moon, all calm, casting her light without haste, streaked now and then by fine wisps of clouds, which she majestically allowed to fall around her shoulders; and the traffic-light meanwhile, always there, on and off, on and off, throbbing with a false vitality, but actually weary and enslaved.
He went back to see if the girl had admitted anything. Not on your life: no admission from her. In fact, she wasn’t now the one who refused to admit; he was. The situation had changed completely, and it was she who kept saying to him: “Then you admit it?”, and he kept saying no. A half hour went by like this. In the end, he admitted, or she did; anyway, Marcovaldo saw them get up and walk off, hand in hand.
He ran to the bench, flung himself on it; but meanwhile, in his waiting, he had lost some of his propensity to feel the sweetness he had been expecting to find there, and his bed at home, as he now remembered it, wasn’t as hard as it had been. But these were minor points; his determination to enjoy the night in the open air remained firm. He stuck his face in the pillow and prepared for sleep, the kind of sleep to which he had long become unaccustomed.
Now he had found the most comfortable position. He wouldn’t have shifted a fraction of an inch for anything in the world. Too bad, though, that when he lay like this, his gaze didn’t fall on a prospect of trees and sky alone, so that in sleep his eyes would close on a view of absolute natural serenity. Before him, foreshortened, a tree was followed by the sword of a general from the height of his monument, then another tree, a notice-board, a third tree, and then, a bit farther, that false, flashing moon, the traffic-light, still ticking off its yellow, yellow, yellow.
It must be said that Marcovaldo’s nervous system had been in such poor shape lately that even when he was dead tired a trifle sufficed to keep him awake; he had only to think something was annoying him, and sleep was out of the question. And now he was annoyed by that traffic-light blinking on and off. It was there in the distance, a yellow eye, winking, alone: it was nothing to bother about. But Marcovaldo must have been suffering from nervous exhaustion: he stared at that blinking and repeated to himself: “How I would sleep if that thing wasn’t there! How I would sleep!” He closed his eyes and seemed to feel, under his eyelids, that silly yellow blinking; he screwed his eyes shut and he could see dozens of traffic-lights; he reopened his eyes, it was the same thing all over again.
He got up. He had to put some screen between himself and the traffic-light. He went as far as the general’s monument and looked around. At the foot of the monument there was a laurel wreath, nice and thick, but now dry and coming apart, standing on props, with a broad, faded ribbon: “ The 15th Lancers on the Anniversary of The Glorious Victory. ” Marcovaldo climbed up on the pedestal, raised the wreath, and hung it on the general’s sabre.
Tornaquinci, the night watchman, making his rounds, crossed the square on his bicycle; Marcovaldo hid behind the statue. Tornaquinci saw the shadow of the monument move on the ground: he stopped, filled with suspicion. He studied that wreath on the sabre: he realized something was out of place, but didn’t know quite what. He aimed the beam of his flashlight up there; he read: “The 15th Lancers on the Anniversary of The Glorious Victory.” He nodded approvingly and went away.
To give him time to go off, Marcovaldo made another turn around the square. In a nearby street, a team of workmen was repairing a switch of the tram-track. At night, in the deserted streets, those little groups of men huddling in the glow of the welding torches, their voices ringing, then dying immediately, have a secret look, as of people preparing things the inhabitants of the daytime must never know. Marcovaldo approached, stood looking at the flame, the workmen’s movements, with a somewhat embarrassed attention, his eyes growing smaller and smaller with sleepiness. He hunted for a cigarette in his pocket, to keep himself awake; but he had no matches. “Who’ll give me a light?” he asked the workmen. “With this?” the man with the torch said, spraying a flurry of sparks.
Another workman stood up, handed him a lighted cigarette. “Do you work nights, too?”
“No, I work days,” Marcovaldo said.
“Then what are you doing up at this time of night? We’re about to quit.”
He went back to the bench. He stretched out. Now the traffic-light was hidden from his eyes; he could fall asleep, at last.
He hadn’t noticed the noise, before. Now, that buzz, like a grim, inhaling breath and an endless scraping and also a scratching, filled his ears completely. There is no sound more heart-rending than that of a welding torch, a kind of muffled scream. Without moving, huddled as he was on the bench, his face against the crumpled pillow, Marcovaldo could find no escape, and the noise continued to conjure up the scene illuminated by the gray flame scattering golden sparks all around, the men hunkered on the ground, smoked-glass vizors over their faces, the torch grasped in the hand shaken by a rapid tremor, the halo of shadow around the tool cart, at the tall trellis-like apparatus that reached the wires. He opened his eyes, turned on the bench, looked at the stars among the boughs. The insensitive sparrows continued sleeping up there among the leaves.
To fall asleep like a bird, to have a wing you could stick your head under, a world of branches suspended above the earthly world, barely glimpsed down below, muffled and remote. Once you begin rejecting your present state, there is no knowing where you can arrive. Now Marcovaldo, in order to sleep, needed something; but he himself didn’t know quite what; at this point not even a genuine silence would have been enough. He had to have a basis of sound, softer than silence, a faint wind passing through the thick undergrowth of a forest, a murmur of water bubbling up and disappearing in a meadow.
He had an idea and he rose to his feet. It wasn’t exactly an idea, because half-dazed by the sleepiness that filled him, he couldn’t form any thought properly; but it was like a recollection that somewhere around there was something connected with the idea of water, with its loquacious and subdued flow.
In fact, there was a fountain, nearby, a distinguished work of sculpture and hydraulics, with nymphs, fauns, river gods, who enlaced jets, cascades, a play of water. Only it was dry: at night, in summer, since the aqueduct was functioning less, they turned it off. Marcovaldo wandered around for a little while like a sleep-walker; more by instinct than by reason he knew that a tub must have a tap. A man who has a good eye can find what he is looking for even with his eyes closed. He turned on the tap: from the conch-shells, from the beards, from the nostrils of the horses, great jets rose, the feigned caverns were cloaked in glistening mantles, and all this water resounded like the organ of a choir loft in the great empty square, with all the rustling and turbulence that water can create. The night watchman, Tornaquinci, was coming along again on his coal-black bicycle, thrusting his tickets under doorways, when he suddenly saw the whole fountain explode before his eyes like a liquid firework. He nearly fell off his seat.
Trying to open his eyes as little as possible, to retain that shred of sleep he felt he had grasped, Marcovaldo ran and flung himself again on the bench. There, now it was as if he lay on the bank of a stream, with the woods above him; he slept.
He dreamed of a dinner, the dish was covered as if to keep the pasta warm. He uncovered it and there was a dead mouse, which stank. He looked into his wife’s plate: another dead mouse. Before his children, more mice, smaller, but also rotting. He uncovered the tureen and found a cat, belly in the air; and the stink woke him.
Not far away there was the garbage truck that passes at night to empty the garbage cans. He could make out in the dim glow from the headlights, the crane, cackling and jerking, the shadows of men standing on the top of the mountain of refuse, their hands guiding the receptacle attached to the pulley, emptying it into the truck, pounding it with blows of their shovels, their voices grim and jerky like the movement of the crane: “Higher . . . let it go . . . to hell with you . . .,” with metallic clashes like opaque gongs, and then the engine picking up, slowly, only to stop a bit farther on, as the maneuver began all over again.
But by now Marcovaldo’s sleep had reached a zone where sounds no longer arrived, and these, even so graceless and rasping, came as if muffled in a soft halo, perhaps because of the very consistency of the garbage packed into the trucks. It was the stink that kept him awake, the stink sharpened by an unbearable idea of stink, whereby even the sounds, those dampened and remote sounds, and the image, outlined against the light, of the truck with the crane didn’t reach his mind as sound and sight but only as stink. And Marcovaldo was delirious, vainly pursuing with his nostrils’ imagination the fragrance of a rose arbor.
The night watchman, Tornaquinci, felt sweat bathe his forehead as he glimpsed a human form running on all fours along a flower-bed, then saw it angrily rip up some buttercups, then disappear. But he thought it must have been either a dog, the responsibility of dog-catchers, or a hallucination, the responsibility of the alienist, or a were-wolf, the responsibility of God knows who but preferably not him; and he turned the corner.
Meanwhile, having gone back to his sleeping place, Marcovaldo pressed the bedraggled clump of buttercups to his nose, trying to fill his sense of smell to the brim with their perfume: but he could press very little from those almost odorless flowers. Still the fragrance of dew, of earth, and of trampled grass was already a great balm. He dispelled the obsession of garbage and slept. It was dawn.
His waking was a sudden explosion of sun-filled sky above his head, a sun that virtually obliterated the leaves, then restored them gradually to his half-blinded sight. But Marcovaldo could not stay because a shiver had made him jump up: the spatter of a hydrant, which the city gardeners use for watering the flowerbeds, made cold streams trickle down his clothes. And all around there were trams clamoring, trucks going to market, hand-carts, pickups, workers on motorbikes rushing to factories, and the blinds being rolled up at house windows whose panes were glittering. His mouth and eyes sticky, his back stiff and one hip bruised, bewildered, Marcovaldo rushed to work.
AUTUMN
3. The municipal pigeon
The routes birds follow, as they migrate southwards or northwards, in autumn or in spring, rarely cross the city. Their flights cleave the heavens high above the striped humps of fields and along the edge of woods; at one point they seem to follow the curving line of a river or the furrow of a valley; at another, the invisible paths of the wind. But they sheer off as soon as the range of a city’s rooftops looms up before them.
And yet, once, a flight of autumn woodcock appeared in a street’s slice of sky. And the only person to notice was Marcovaldo, who always walked with his nose in the air. He was on a little tricycle-truck, and seeing the birds he pedaled harder, as if he were chasing them, in the grip of a hunter’s fantasy, though the only gun he had ever held was an army rifle.
And as he proceeded, his eyes on the flying birds, he found himself at an intersection, the light red, in the midst of the automobiles; and he came within a hair’s breadth of being run over. As a traffic cop, his face purple, wrote name and address in a notebook, Marcovaldo sought again with his eyes those wings in the sky; but they had vanished.

At work, his fine brought him harsh reproaches.
“Can’t you even get traffic-lights straight?” his foreman, Signor Viligelmo, shouted at him. “What were you looking at anyway, knuckle-head?”
“I was looking at a flight of woodcock . . .” he said.
“What?” Signor Viligelmo was an old man; his eyes glistened. And Marcovaldo told him the story.
“Saturday I’m going out with dog and gun!” the foreman said, full of vigor, now forgetting his outburst. “The migration’s begun, up in the hills. Those birds were certainly scared off by the hunters up there, and they flew over the city . . .”
All that day Marcovaldo’s brain ground and ground, like a mill. “Saturday, if the hills are full of hunters, as is quite likely, God knows how many woodcock will fly over the city. If I handle it right, Sunday I’ll eat roast woodcock.”

The building where Marcovaldo lived had a flat roof, with wires strung for drying laundry. Marcovaldo climbed up there with three of his children, carrying a can of birdlime, a brush, and a sack of corn. While the children scattered kernels of corn everywhere, he spread birdlime on the parapets, the wires, the frames of the chimneypots. He put so much on that Filippetto, while he was playing, almost got stuck fast.
That night Marcovaldo dreamed of the roof dotted with fluttering, trapped woodcock. His wife, Domitilla, more greedy and lazy, dreamed of ducks already roasted, lying on the chimneys. His daughter Isolina, romantic, dreamed of humming-birds to decorate her hat. Michelino dreamed of finding a stork up there.
The next day, every hour one of the children went up to inspect the roof: he would just peek out from the trap-door so, if they were about to alight, they wouldn’t be scared; then he would come down and report. The reports were not good. But then, towards noon, Pietruccio came back, shouting: “They’re here! Papà! Come and see!”
Marcovaldo went up with a sack. Trapped in the birdlime there was a poor pigeon, one of those gray urban doves, used to the crowds and racket of the squares. Fluttering around, other pigeons contemplated him sadly, as he tried to unstick his wings from the mess on which he had unwisely lighted.

Marcovaldo and his family were sucking the little bones of that thin and stringy pigeon, which had been roasted, when they heard a knocking at the door.
It was the landlady’s maid. “The Signora wants you! Come at once!”
Very concerned, because he was six months behind with the rent and feared eviction, Marcovaldo went to the Signora’s apartment, on the main floor. As he entered the living room, he saw that there was already a visitor: the purple-faced cop.
“Come in, Marcovaldo,” the Signora said. “I am informed that on our roof someone is trapping the city’s pigeons. Do you know anything about it?”
Marcovaldo felt himself freeze.
“Signora! Signora!” a woman’s voice cried at that moment.
“What is it, Guendalina?”
The laundress came in. “I went up to hang out the laundry, and all the wash is stuck to the lines. I pulled on it, to get it loose, but it tore. Everything’s ruined. What can it be?”
Marcovaldo rubbed his hand over his stomach, as if his digestion were giving him trouble.
WINTER
4. The city lost in the snow
That morning the silence woke him. Marcovaldo pulled himself out of bed with the sensation there was something strange in the air. He couldn’t figure out what time it was, the light between the slats of the blinds was different from all other hours of day and night. He opened the window: the city was gone; it had been replaced by a white sheet of paper. Narrowing his eyes, he could make out, in the whiteness, some almost-erased lines, which corresponded to those of the familiar view: the windows and the roofs and the lamp-posts all around, but they were lost under all the snow that had settled over them during the night.
“Snow!” Marcovaldo cried to his wife; that is, he meant to cry, but his voice came out muffled. As it had fallen on lines and colors and views, the snow had fallen on noises, or rather on the very possibility of making noise; sounds, in a padded space, did not vibrate.
He went to work on foot; the trams were blocked by the snow. Along the street, making his own path, he felt free as he had never felt before. In the city all differences between sidewalk and street had vanished; vehicles could not pass, and Marcovaldo, even if he sank up to his thighs at every step and felt the snow get inside his socks, had become master, free to walk in the middle of the street, to trample on flower-beds, to cross outside the prescribed lines, to proceed in a zig-zag.
Streets and avenues stretched out, endless and deserted, like blanched chasms between mountainous cliffs. There was no telling whether the city hidden under that mantle was still the same or whether, in the night, another had taken its place.

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